The announcement is everything

Neal Katyal and Joshua Geltzer in the Post:

The new documents released Tuesday evening by the House Intelligence Committee were devastating to Trump’s continuing — if shifting — defense of his Ukraine extortion scandal, just days before his impeachment trial is likely to begin in the Senate. These new documents demolish at least three key defenses to which Trump and his allies have been clinging: that he was really fighting corruption when he pressured Ukraine on matters related to the Biden family; that Hunter Biden should be called as a witness at the Senate impeachment trial; and that there’s no need for a real, honest-to-goodness trial in the Senate.

They point out that even Nixon didn’t think he could just say No to impeachment.

That’s why the House added Article II to Trump’s impeachment: “Obstruction of Congress.” It was a response to an unprecedented attempt by Trump to hide the truth.

The documents released Tuesday show what Trump has been so afraid of. For starters, they prove that Trump’s already-eyebrow-raising claim to have been fighting corruption in Ukraine was bogus. Notes taken by an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, Lev Parnas — now facing federal criminal charges — show what his and Giuliani’s mission was when they got in touch with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: “get Zalensky to Announce that the Biden case will Be Investigated.” Look hard at the real goal here: not to prompt an investigation of Hunter Biden, but to score an announcement of a Biden investigation. Pursuing an announcement, rather than an investigation, makes sense only if Trump’s objective was to dirty the reputation of a leading political rival, Joe Biden.

It’s very Trump though. It’s incriminating but it’s also just so Trump – so about the appearance and so not about the substance. He’s a pretend genius pretending to be a president pretending to do serious grown-up presidenty things. It’s all performance; there is nothing else. He doesn’t know there’s anything else. He thinks what he sees is all there is. He’s that simple.

All told, the documents help to explain Trump’s consistent push to bury the evidence against himself. Every week, it becomes clearer why Trump has withheld documents from Congress, blocked executive branch officials and even private citizens from testifying before Congress, and overall, well, obstructed Congress, as the second article of impeachment rightly describes it. It’s because Trump is a man with something to hide. Let’s see what else he’s hiding — in front of the Senate next week, in a good, old-fashioned American trial for all to see.

Trump has almost everything to hide.

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